In the spirit of Oiselle's WheelsUP17 AND Destroy/Create campaigns I've spent quite a bit of time (like all of January) ruminating on my goals for the year.
Run a sub 2-hour half
Run a sub 26 min 5K
Go to RRCA training
Pay off Jon's school loans
Read 12 books
Travel: (these are mostly planned!)
Visit friends in TX (AUAM reunion)
Boston Marathon weekend!
Long weekend abroad?
I would love to see most of these come to fruition this year. I want to break through my mental barriers so I can build myself into a stronger, leaner running machine. I want to destroy this notion that I can't enjoy life (take that critics) and create a healthy, happier me.
Here's to 2017!!
December 2016 - Wilmington, Raleigh, Waynesville, NC & Rehoboth Beach, DE
The holidays. It's always nice to have a break but still a little stressful trying to cram so much in while being away from work!
This year we started our festivities in Wilmington the week prior to xmas. I grabbed Jon from the airport (he was coming from a conference in Chicago) and then we settled down for a day of food, presents and family time. It was nice to visit with everyone and be at the beach (even if it was brief). The next morning Jon and I got up for a run- I did 6 while he did 3 and grabbed coffee while I finished. Love running out there- so nice and flat and with a nice breeze.
We had to come back to Blacksburg for a few days to work but then were back in Raleigh on Wednesday. I got to see Kristi, Kate and Matt, JJ, Caitlin and their Kevins, and Andrew and Kevin (Jon's friends). It was great catching up with everyone! We also had a lot of family stuff and I got some runs in as well. Lots of food, desserts, hanging out. Was nice to relax a bit. Then it was xmas morning, we had a nice breakfast with everyone and then got on the road to Waynesville.
More food, presents, festivities followed by some holiday drinking and Christmas Vacation. I got to run around Lake Junaluska a couple of times and we went into Asheville to New Belgium one evening. Then we packed up again- dropped off in Blacksburg- and then headed over to Rehoboth Beach.
We arrived a day earlier than we normally would so we could watch both the UNC and Michigan bowl games. JJ and Kevin joined us the next day for lots of beer, yummy food and fun. I even got JJ to run on the boardwalk with me! We had tickets for a NYE beer dinner at Chesapeake and Main and finished off the night listening to blue grass at the DFH brewpub. Happy New Year!
New Years day dawned and we had a delicious brunch before saying goodbye and spending the day wandering around town and watching football. Of course we closed out the night at the brewpub with black eyed peas.
A wonderful holiday vacation indeed!
Baltimore, MD - November 19, 2016
Dum, dum, da-dum - Kate's getting married!
Jon and I drove up on Friday because I had sort of volunteered him to conduct the choir during Kate and Matt's ceremony. I-81 isn't my favorite drive but we managed to get through Virginia and over to Baltimore while avoiding DC. We got checked in, quickly changed clothes and then walked around the harbor to the rehearsal location. They were getting married in the art museum with all its eclectic and crazy art. It was a little hectic but they were able to quickly rehearse the wedding and then the choir met outside to rehearse for a bit. Jon had been practicing in the car so he was familiar with the piece. However the choir needed a bit of work so after their night rehearsal they planned to meet before the wedding to rehearse again and Jon planned on learning the bass part so he could sing along. [I owe him SO BIG for this]. After the rehearsal we had some time to kill before the dinner so we find a cute little bar nearby and hung out til it was time to head over. La Havana was the dinner spot and by the time we headed over we were all starving! I chowed down on yummy cuban food and we met a few others attending the wedding. There were some really entertaining toasts from Matt's family (I didn't mention- but he's a Kiwi from New Zealand). Then Jon and I ubered (for the first time) back to our hotel because while walkable Baltimore can be a bit sketchy after dark.
Saturday I got up and ran around the harbor. It was unseasonably warm so I was in a tank and shorts but cranked out 6 miles with beautiful views the whole time. Then I met Jon back at the hotel for a quick breakfast. I was headed to the bridal luncheon around 11:30 so didn't want to eat too much before. A shower and outfit change and I met Meredith to walk over since she was staying at our hotel. I helped mix up the mimosas and then we all enjoyed a really tasty lunch while the girls were getting their hair done. A nice break in the day. Jon was out in the harbor watching football so I met up with him- again it was such a beautiful day. We hung out in the Power Plant area for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to change for the wedding. We had to be back at little early so he could rehearse the choir again. Luckily I did not have to sing! And then finally it was time for the wedding!
A totally nontraditional but still religious ceremony was had. And lots of music. The choir pulled off a great performance and then it was time to party! We headed upstairs for appetizers and to enjoy the rest of the evening. Really tasty food stations and then cake! The dancing was fun- a little more dance hits would have been nice but I can dance to anything so we still had a good time. Congrats to Matt and Kate!
We headed back to the hotel after since we were exhausted and didn't feel up for an after party. (We're such old people now). On Sunday morning I got up and ran another 3 miles in the harbor. Of course now it was 20+ degrees cooler (crazy weather) but still a nice run. Then a little hotel breakfast, packing up and getting back on the road. Always a good time in Baltimore!
Charlottesville, VA - October 28-30, 2016
A weekend to celebrate my oldest friend getting hitched!
Kate and I have known each other since we were 9 when she invited me over to play dress-up one day after school. I was the new kid and she took a chance on me- as we call it now, she is an 'agressive befriender'. Anyway 23 years later and now we are celebrating her soon to be marriage to Matt.
I was meeting up with a few of her close friends and sister at a small AirBnB in Charlottesville. We all arrived late on Friday night, grabbed some late night food and caught up a bit before crashing for the evening.
Saturday morning dawned and I went out for a run- short 4 miles down one of the mountain country roads. It was very peaceful. When I got back I was treated to a delicious breakfast by JRuss and then took a quick shower just to wash off a bit. The plan was to go for a hike at Humpback Rocks, have a picnic lunch afterwards and then head to wineries. We followed that plan pretty closely! The hike was pretty uphill but the view at the top was pretty awesome. Of course once we were done we stuffed our faces. Should have brought the lunch to the top. Hindsight.
After grubbing and changing clothes we headed over to Veritas winery to enjoy the afternoon and some tasty wine. The view was beautiful and we had a really nice time. We had a quick stop by a grocery store so I could grab my Sunday morning breakfast items and then it was back to the AirBnB for a delcious Mexican dinner courtesy of Davys and Meredith. We even had Three Leches Cake. SO GOOD. After lots of wine and dessert we pulled out the games and of course took on some celebrity rounds. Always a blast.
Sunday morning I pulled myself out of bed to start prepping smoothie bowls (seriously the best) and nutritious breakfast. I wasn't sure how people would feel but they really liked them and they were nice and fresh. After some showering, cleaning and relaxing we all packed up and headed our respective ways.
Can't wait to party at the wedding in a few weeks!! Congrats to Kate!
September 2016 - Various Locations
In between running meetups I was out and about having quite the month! We started out in Wilmington for my cousin Brittany's wedding. It was along the waterway and the weather was a bit crazy. The day prior a tropical storm had skirted through the area so the temps were lower which ended up being good for those of us seated outside! But anyway there was a nice breeze and it ended up being a really pretty evening. We took a few photos on the dock after the ceremony and then of course hit up the photo booth! Fun wedding! I also got in a short run while in town (try and get it done wherever I can)!
Later in the month, JJ and Kevin came to visit for a football game. Right before they arrived we had a double rainbow on campus! Crazy. Anywho it's always fun to have them along for football games. Of course this day it was scorchingly hot but we pushed through and survived the heat (with a little sunburn after-ouch!) After the game we took quick showers and then headed back out to hang out in town for the evening. And on Sunday we took them (and some of their friends) up the Appalachian Trial to Dragon's Tooth. It was super foggy so the view wasn't great sadly but the hike was still fun. Afterwards we chowed down at Home Place. Gotta love plates upon plates of southern cooking after a 6 mile hike. Fun weekend with friends!
September you were a pretty decent month!
June 9-12, 2016 - Blowing Rock, NC
If someone had told me a few years back that I would be attending a running camp and LOVING it I would have laughed in their faces. This was hands down one of my favorite weekends in recent memories. I joined Oiselle last July not really sure what to expect but knew I loved the company and what the stood for and hoped it would bring me more friends in the running world. Over the past year I had met a few birds, here and there, but hadn't gotten the full experience of being on the team.
Then came bird camp. A 4 day whirlwind of running, laughing, great food, great company, learning and so much more. I finally felt what it meant to be a part of this sisterhood. Being a part of a group that lifts women up and excepts them for who they are regardless of running level or really anything else. It was finding my people. I had the BEST time. I put faces with instagram accounts and now can cheer on teammates from afar as we work harder at bettering ourselves through this sport that we love. I learned about proper training and why I had been injured so many times and how to fix that going forward. I ate some of the best food and felt full from the quality and not quantity. I met an incredible group of fierce women who I can now call friends and sister birds. An absolutely amazing weekend that has changed my outlook on running and being a part of a team. I've improved in training since that weekend and while it's taken me a bit to process everything and write this post I knew I had to put it down to share so that others will join the team and attend bird camps in the future.
Day 1: I had worked out with two of the DC birds to carpool- Leanne and Mandy. They drove to Blacksburg and then I took us the rest of the way in the focus. I had never met either of them before but conversation flowed freely and before we knew it we were arriving at camp. Upon arrival we checked in, got our room assignments and our swag bags and then headed into the lodge. My roommate was Becky from Oklahoma. Easy to remember! I quickly unpacked, we chatted about running camp anxieties, changed into gear for run #1 and then headed back downstairs. We discovered we both loved Injinji socks!! :D
Run#1 was at Moses Cone Park, about a 20 min drive from camp so we all loaded into vans and headed that way. It was an afternoon run which is not my normal run time AT ALL and I was coming off the half marathon from the weekend before so I wasn't sure how it was going to go. We were supposed to run 'the Maze' and then could do a loop around the lake if we wanted to hit 4 miles for the day. I tried to start out slow thinking surely I would be ok with the elevation. We were about 800 ft. higher than Blacksburg. Well. I discovered very quickly that I'm not good on long gradual climbs. My normal runs take me up hills but there's always a downhill soon to follow. I swear this felt like we never stopped climbing!! But I kept moving forward and then finally got to the downhill at the end. Of course by then I was feeling ok so I went about half way around the lake to hit 3.6 for the day. Then it was time for a lesson in proper cool down. Ryan took us through a variety of exercises to stretch out all the muscles we'd just used. I've been doing them after every run since then!!
After we got back to Zap, I jumped in the shower and then it was Zappetizer time! Delicious snacks especially the amazing Salsa-mole. Loved it. Dinner was soon to follow with an intro to camp from our trainers and our first lecture on building a proper training plan. I got so much out of that- learning what I did wrong every other time I've tried to train, learning why I continue to injure myself and how to fix it all. Awesome! We closed out the night with a campfire and s'mores. Great first day!!
Day 2: Longer run on the schedule. We were up early to get ready for the day and grab a little breakfast food before it was back to Moses Cone for a longer run. We were going to run up to the Manor House (2.5 mile gradual climb) and then head down and of course you could do more laps around the lake if wanted. Ugh- that climb. Again gradual hills and I are not friends. I obviously need to work more on this in my training because I felt so unprepared to tackle them. But finally I made it to the top. We were taking a brief pause until everyone arrived so we could take some fun photos at the top. Then it was almost a mad dash back down (thanks gravity) before Mandy and I took another lap around the lake for an even 6 for the day. Cool down followed and then it was back to camp for yoga! A very nice and relaxing way to continue the cool down and then of course lunch!! Every meal we ate was planned with our activities in mind and was so filling and nutritious. I wanted to take the chef home to cook for me on a daily basis!
After lunch we had a session about marathon training. While I've never run the distance I figured I would be able to apply it to my half training AND bank it for a possible future marathon. Super informative and I'll definitely be using the planning for future races. It was time for an afternoon hike- back around the Moses Cone grounds up to his gravesite. A great way to stretch our legs out after sitting through the various sessions. I took some awesome photos at the top (one of which Oiselle ended up using in their media on bird camp- talk about excitement for the repost.) It was a beautiful hike and yet another opportunity to learn more about my teammates. There were 25 of us at camp and I got to talk to everyone at least a little bit. So great!!
Afterwards we had another session on 5K/10K training and then time for dinner!!! Afterwards we got to listen to Andie talk about her journey in running and becoming an elite. Her story was so emotional that we were all in tears at one point. So humble, nice and down to earth. I can't believe I know someone who ran at the Olympic trials! I closed out the evening with a massage and IT. WAS. THE. BEST. SO needed. And she worked out my leg cramps. YES. (I've had no issues since then- Jen Pillow you rock).
Day 3: Interval day! Up again pretty early to head to Boone to tackle interval training. I've tried my hand (on my own) at this a few times in this last training cycle but ended up getting injured. We started out with a dynamic warmup- much more than I've ever done before. Leg swings, followed by lateral runs and skips, and a 12 min progressive warmup. Then finishing with a few strides. It was nice to know this really helps- my run afterwards felt great! Then we broke into groups based on our pacing (9mins FTW) and practiced doing 400s and 800s at pace. It was really nice to have people to do this with. Solo running is great but having folks to hit paces with made all the difference for me. It ended up being one of my better training runs and next time when I start incorporating that into my training I'll be prepared. I was videotaped afterwards for analysis later. Again something I've never had but was super excited for.
Afterwards we stopped by a cute bakery before it was back in the vans to head back to camp. Nearby is a creek that is like an ice bath. GREAT on sore muscles. A bunch of us headed down there to relax before lunch! Then it was time for our next sessions. I had strength training afterwards and learned a bunch of core exercises for strengthening and supporting my running. THEN it was time to hang out in Blowing Rock. A few of us had been eyeing the local brewery and immediately headed there when we got to town. We hung out for a while, another group of birds joined us and laughter, hijinks and fun was had by all. Then of course we got to cram back into the van- took a quick pit stop for an awesome photo- and then back to camp. Pre-dinner session for me was video analysis. I learned I hold too much tension in my upper body and that I needed to relax my shoulders and swing my arms more. That would help immensely with my breathing. Great feedback that I'm trying to take to heart as I've moved forward since camp.
Dinner was quick to follow- again so good- and then I had some one on one coaching with Ryan. Yet again something I've never had but will hopefully be able to obtain in the future. We talked about my injuries, my goals going forward and how to get to them. He gave me a plan that I've been working on to get to SeaWheeze injury free BUT also try and PR. Fingers crossed everything works out this time!! After this, we all had one final session with Zika on nutrition. Great info that I'm putting into practice already. Of course then we went out for ice cream at Kilwin's afterwards- but hey all about moderation. :)
Day 4: Last morning at camp :(. We had a prediction run on the schedule. Basically we wrote down what we thought our 3.2 time would be and then we went out and ran watchless. I came in third place- only :20 off my predicted time. BOOM. We took lots of photos in our singlets and enjoyed the last run with each other. Then quick showers, a closing from our trainers and it was time to head home.
A weekend like I've never experienced. And one that I can't wait to repeat. Now I know 25 of my sisterbirds and I'm so excited to reconnect at races and online. Seriously one of the best weekends EVER!!
One of my goals for 2016 was to be healthier along with becoming more fit and strong. I started eating better with portion sizes, more complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins. I've been focused on viewing food as fuel to get me through the day as well as through my workouts. Of course I still have my cheats!!! Can't say no to chocolate peanut butter, beer and wine ALL the time. But I do limit myself to not throw things too far off track. :) Here's a breakdown of the above meals!
2 scrambled eggs
1/2 cup of baked sweet potatoes
2 Tbsps Jack's Special salsa
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 cup steamed cauliflower
3/4 cup of baked paprika chicken
1 cup zucchini pan fried in butter
1 cup red pepper pan fried in butter
3/4 cup of baked paprika chicken
Vega Protein Shake
I'm enjoying this so far and hope to continue the healthy eating for the rest of the year. Bring on the Strong in 2016!
When we were living in Wisconsin last year, I had a unique opportunity. We were moving offices and I got to choose what kind of desk I wanted. I'd been interested in converting to a standing desk for awhile as I've noticed that I hunch pretty badly in desk chairs. So when the chance came I took it, I switched to standing full time (which was really on part-time 5-6 hours, 4 days a week) but I really really liked it. Gone was the pain in my upper back and the need to stretch constantly. I was able to focus more on my tasks and moving around the office was no longer a chore.
Of course then we moved to VA and I had no idea if I would have that opportunity again. Not many places have standing desks. Well, I got hired at Virginia Tech and of course was given a standard desk with desk chair. I used it for a few months (because again I was part-time until one of the staff retired at the end of December). But my upper back pain returned- even though I was using a giant monitor I still hunched.
I started searching online for standing desks- some are ridiculously expensive but then I found where the Ikea Hack. Using a simple table (LACK), Shelf and brackets (EKBY) I was able to create a standing desk that I could place on top of my existing desk at work.
This was awesome! Of course VT has ridiculously hard floors so I also purchased a standing pad so my heels wouldn't hurt. Gone was the back pain, back was the mobility. I was in hog heaven- or so I thought....
I then upgraded to what was only a dream. A treadmill desk. Now I could walk while working, making sure I got my steps in everyday and burning extra calories along the way!!! Our director of the school happened to have one she was no longer using but was collecting dust in her office. I was SO HAPPY to take it off her hands.
I've been walking on it ever since and have lost a few extra pounds, have more energy during the day and am sleeping great at night. I walk pretty slow during the day (1.2-1.5 mph) so I can still be productive and of course I pause it when I really need to focus on the task at hand.
For anyone that wants to incorporate more walking or activity in general into their lives I would highly recommend switching to this combo if like me you are working a desk job everyday from 9-5.
I know I know- jumping on a trend... but this one is actually fun! And surprisingly therapeutic.
For xmas this year I put some coloring books on my list. I had heard from various friends that it was actually fun to color again and so wanted to give it a try. I was specifically looking for color by numbers as I wasn't sure I wanted to make the commitment to also choose my colors! The analytical side won out over the creative side on that one.
But turns out that I'm actually ok at choosing pretty color combos. I got a couple of books from my parents- Snowflake Mandalas and Cityscapes. And Jon also gave me a Color Escape set from Crayola. Ask for one... receive many. :)
During the break I pulled out the mandala book- there was something very soothing about perfect symmetrical circles that I knew I could work with. Of course now that life has started back up again it's been harder for me to find time to color- but I am experimenting with using my lunch break as a time to unplug and focus on something else.
Here are are few of my (ahem) "masterpieces". I feel (again with the analytical side) that I have to finish the mandala book before moving on to the others but hopefully soon I'll crack into the animal and cityscapes.
Tis the season for girl scout cookies! Now- if you're like me and grew up on Tagalongs and Samoas but you now live in ABC baker territory where they try and sell you Peanut Butter Patties and Caramel Delights then yes you need something better.
My mom used to make these cookies when I was a kid (kind of like my cupcakes in Kindergarten) and I recently starting making them again in the last couple of years. Boy are they a hit! I have yet to meet someone who doesn't become addicted because well they are that good.
Take that girl scouts! You can make these babies year round. MMMMMM delicious.
Oh and I did I mention they are the easiest things ever to create?? Well here are your directions below. Make them immediately- give to all your friends (or eat them all the time) and REPEAT!